NASA Chooses Blue Origin for Astronaut Mission to the Moon

Blue Origin and its National Team partners have been awarded the NextSTEP-2 Appendix P Sustaining Lunar Development (SLD) contract by NASA. The team includes Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic, and Honeybee Robotics.

The contract will see the development and flight of a lunar lander that can make a precision landing anywhere on the Moon’s surface, as well as a cislunar transporter. These vehicles will be powered by LOX-LH2, which provides a significant advantage for high-energy deep space missions due to its high-specific impulse. However, LOX-LH2 has not been used for these missions in the past due to its problematic boil-off during long mission timelines.

Through the SLD contract, Blue Origin and its partners aim to make high-performance LOX-LH2 a storable propellant combination. This will involve the development and flight of solar-powered 20-degree Kelvin cryocoolers and other technologies required to prevent LOX-LH2 boil-off. The use of storable LH2 will benefit future missions beyond the Moon, as well as enabling capabilities such as high-performance nuclear thermal propulsion.

© Blue Origin

Blue Origin’s architecture also prepares for the future use of lunar ice to manufacture LOX and LH2 propellants on the Moon. The team is already hard at work and excited to be embarking on this journey with NASA.